Underwood’s endearing, voiceless cat is back, this time getting a lesson in Valentine’s Day tact.
Using signs and props to communicate with an off-page, unseen, seemingly adult figure, Cat first establishes that he doesn’t like Valentine’s Day. It gradually comes out that, other than his stuffed squid, he has no friends. Just then, the conversation is interrupted by a bone, thrown over the fence by Cat’s new neighbor, Dog, and it’s not the first bone he’s thrown, either. Cat, being Cat, jumps to conclusions, especially after a thrown ball clobbers him. “Cat, what are you up to? // You are going to give Dog a valentine? // Oh, dear.” That about sums it up. Needless to say, the Roses are Red… poems Cat comes up with are not very tactful. But his construction of a rocket (to send Dog to the moon, of course) is interrupted by a valentine that flutters down and lands on its tip. Perhaps Dog isn’t the mean, awful neighbor Cat took him to be? Maybe he’s even a potential friend. Rueda masterfully uses white space and Cat’s facial expressions and body language to play up the emotions, exploiting the expansive page count for beautifully pitched comic timing.
Cat hasn’t lost his ability to charm readers, if for no other reason than children are so able to see themselves in him. (Picture book. 3-7)